Happy Monday everyone, and welcome to the second instalment of my guideline to photo-emulsion screen printing. If you’ve missed the first part you can read it here.
I mix some black acrylic paint with a clear acrylic base, which stops the paint from drying out while printing and helps the paint to go further. The more clear base you add the weaker the colour will be. Don’t add more than half of it to your mixture, as you don’t want the paint to dry out too soon!
Now we need to ‘flood’ the screen. We do this by lifting the frame slightly (so the paint isn’t printed onto anything) and spread the paint on the side of the image where the squeegee rests. Now ‘flood’ the image with the paint, pulling it across the stencil with the squeegee. Flooding the stencil before ensures there is enough paint to print. Also ensure that you print with the squeege at an angle, as in the image below.
I then stick a large piece of clear acrylic film underneath the screen, securing it on the left side with some masking tape, which allows me to easily fold the film on and off the print bed. I make my first print onto the film. This gives me a marker to show exactly where to place my paper when printing. Now when I want to make a print, I place my fancy paper under the film, and move it around till I am satisfied with the placement. I then add small squares of thick paper (about business card thickness- see below) on the bottom and left of the paper, securing them in place with tape. I then position my paper against these markers every time I print, and each piece should be printed in exactly the same place. What a faff. But it’s worth it, trust me!
Now I am ready to print (finally aha). I practice first on some scrap pieces of paper before committing to my nice expensive paper! I print with the frame down on the printing bed, pushing the squeegee and paint back over the image, maintaining a steady pressure across the squeege so the paint prints evenly. If you have any patches the look a bit light, it’s probably because the pressure isn’t even enough.. After each print I lift the frame up and flood the stencil again. This process is repeated until I have all the prints I need.
Once all the prints are done I leave them to dry on a rack. If you think all that took a long time, you now have to clean the printing bed, ensuring it is perfectly dry and clean for the next use. Also thoroughly wash your screen, as we don’t want the ink to dry. The emulsion is pretty tough and only comes off with a special solution, so don’t be too delicate when washing. Lots of print studios have special large sinks to rinse your frame with a pressure washer, but if your using a small frame at home it just takes a bit more elbow grease with a rough sponge.